23 February 2013

6 Tips Prevent Internet Procrastination

I am a master of procrastination. Perhaps you are too. There are millions of people who suffer from crippling procrastination and it’s a real drain on productivity and efficiency. The weird thing is, many of us don’t want to procrastinate; we want to work at full capacity, but we just can’t. But with a few tips, I think you’ll be able to overcome this beast.

The thing about procrastination is that it can be caused by different factors in different people. Some people might procrastinate due to a lack of direction, others procrastinate due to a busy schedule or exhaustion. With that in mind, I present a few different ways to tackle procrastination from different angles. Use the ones that apply to you!

Perfection Is Impossible

On a personal level, this is the main reason why I procrastinate. I have a tendency to be a perfectionist, which means that I don’t like to do things unless I know I’m going to succeed. In other words, if there’s a chance that something will fail, I’d prefer not to do it at all rather than starting and risking failure.

This fear of failure can be extremely crippling – so crippling that these procrastinators won’t ever do anything. They appear to be lazy slacker bums to the average person, but they’re just suffering from this debilitating fear. This fear can affect everyone, but creative people seem to suffer from it more than others.

The trick to beating this kind of procrastination? Realizing that perfection is impossible. This is why we have things like rough drafts and prototypes. Learn to embrace failure. Make your task iterative; start with a rough draft full of errors, then go through multiple drafts where you fix those errors one by one.

Use To-Do Lists and Stay on Track

Another form of procrastination is caused by a lack of direction. You have a lot of things to do, but you aren’t sure where to begin. Or you have so many things to do that you feel overwhelmed by a big mass of work – how will you ever get any of it done?

This is why we have so many to-do list apps and programs on this site. To-do lists are extremely popular because they provide an easy way to keep yourself organized, they let you break down huge chunks of work into miniscule bite-sized pieces, and you can feel the satisfaction of work completed by checking items off your list.

If you suffer from a lack of direction, to-do lists are your best bet. Take big projects (write and publish my next article) and separate them into smaller tasks (formulate 5 main ideas, write intro paragraph, clean up conclusion, etc.). Then, whenever you look at your to-do list, you can just do one thing, cross it off, and come back later. That’s progress.

Set Deadlines For Important Tasks

Procrastination can stem from an overly busy schedule, a feeling of exhaustion, or just a general mismanagement of time. This is related to feeling overwhelmed or having a lack of direction, but it’s subtly different. You can know what you need to do but it’ll never get done if you don’t actually sit down and do it.

For something like this, you need to set hard deadlines for yourself. In order for these to work, the deadlines need to be very near in your future. If your thesis paper is due in 4 weeks, don’t set your deadline for 3 weeks from now. Take a small task and give it a deadline of tomorrow. Get it done, then reward yourself with a few days of no work.

Which brings up another point: these deadlines won’t work if you don’t take them seriously. To help you take them seriously, you may want to use a system of rewards and punishments. If you complete it on time, reward yourself. If you miss the deadline, pay your friend $50.

On that note, this works great if you can get a reliable friend to keep you accountable.

Schedule Times For Internet Access

Now we’re entering into the specific world of Internet-related procrastination. The Internet is probably the biggest personal distraction to ever grace human history. With just one click, you could be looking at cat pictures, shock sites, YouTube videos, streamed TV shows, forum communities, or anything else.

If you can’t be on the Internet without switching to your browser/email/chat every 30 seconds, then maybe the proper response is to temporarily shut off access to the Internet. Set aside a specific time period during the day when you can use the Internet, then unplug the router or modem at all other times.

The inverse suggestion is to set aside a time when you aren’t allowed to be on the Internet. Fool around with cat pictures as much as you want, but when 3 PM rolls around, buckle down and power through your work for the next hour. The cat pictures will be waiting for you when you’re done.

This is exponentially easier if you live with someone who can keep you accountable.

Disable Notifications and Close Programs

Maybe you have enough willpower to keep yourself from frequently switching to your browser/email/chat, but you instantly lose focus whenever someone sends you an IM or you receive a notification popup about that email you just received. Notifications are nice, but nothing says distraction like an alert that’s meant to steal your attention.

The solution? Turn off notifications! If you have the ability to focus deeply on a task at hand, take advantage of it! Prevent anything and everything that could rouse you from that concentration. Email alerts, IM sounds, blinking taskbar icons, popup notifications – turn them all off.

This goes for your phone, too. One text message could lead to your checking Reddit on your phone, which could end up in five hours down the drain…

Use Anti-Procrastination Tools and Programs

When all else fails, let technology do the hard work on your behalf. It’s somewhat ironic that we’re using technology to stave off technology-induced procrastination, isn’t it? But that’s where we are right now, so we might as well make due. Here are some programs and apps that’ll help you.

  • Pomodoro technique. We’ve written about the Pomodoro Technique on MakeUseOf before, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say that it uses a system of work periods and break periods in order to boost your productivity – and it works.

  • Silent time. There is a category of apps that can schedule “silent time” for your phone, meaning no sounds, vibrations, calls, texts, or anything else during certain periods of the day. These are fantastic when you don’t want to be disturbed.

  • Nag scripts. There are programs that quietly sit in the background of your computer and nag you every once in a while. PesterMe is one of those programs and I find very useful. You can set a custom message that pops up every X minutes: “Are you slacking off right now?” is what I use.

  • FocalFilter. FocalFilter is a program that temporarily disables you from accessing sites on your “blocked sites” list. If you can identify which websites are sucking away all of your time (Reddit, for example) then you can run this for however many minutes you need to kill those distracting sites and finish your work. Available for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari on Windows.


Procrastination can be momentarily pleasant, but it’s extremely frustrating and stress-inducing over the long term. Hopefully the tips listed here will help you to overcome your own procrastination problems.

I cycle through all of these from time to time since I procrastinate for different reasons depending on my mood, so don’t feel too bad if you think all of these apply to you! What really matters is that you can identify the cause and then rectify it.

Image Credits: Signposts Via Shutterstock, Drowning Hand Via Shutterstock, Deadline Via Shutterstock, Alert Thoughts Via Shutterstock

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Stuck On A Rock! Get Inspiring Trip Ideas With The Help Of These 5 Visual Travel Websites

We are meant to travel. Our early nomadic ancestors traveled towards sources of food and water. Later, as societies developed their children made it come to them. In the 21st century we travel a lot more than in the centuries before. The World Wide Web has also given us the gift to look beyond our worlds on a computer screen. Yes, virtual tours and travels aren’t the real deal, but they do light the spark for the wandering spirit to take over.

If you are stuck on a rock, then inspirational travel ideas are not too difficult to come by. Facebook’s new Graph Search could be the thing for friend-recommended travel spots. If you are a visual person like me, travel videos could be a start. Alternatively, you could head to any travel website worth a price of a plane ticket; travel websites play to our sense of scenery and serenity. So, how about journeying to these five very visual websites for some travel inspiration…


Gorgeous spots around the world are showcased by travelers here. Trover is a photo-discovery travel website and mobile app for iPhone and Android. You can jump to any location on Earth and browse photos of food, culture and fun activities special to the area. Trover is built on sharing travel recommendations with the help of photos and you contribute your own as well. What’s better is that you can build your personal dreams – a traveling wish list in pictures – a Trover list. The mobile apps enhance your travel experience when you go there by helping you navigate to the coolest places.

Also check out a similar photo discovery travel website – Discoverful


Looking for trip ideas but want to customize it just perfectly without calling a travel agent? Try TripTuner and its unique system of “sliders”. TripTuner takes a slightly different approach to other travel websites by allowing you to match a destination with your own travel tastes right at the onset with the graphic equalizer like sliders. Mix and match to display compelling images of your personal travel spots. You can create your wish list and keep it for future travel plans. TripTuner is a not a booking and itinerary planning website, though there is an option to book hotels. It is more a fun (but serious) tool to serendipitously discover cool spots.


Trippy is again a Pinterest-esque site which allows travelers to share travel photos and help their fellow men and women discover travel spots around the world. Just like Pinterest, you can create your own travel boards which are visual collections of photos from the trips you have taken. Check out Anthony Bourdain’s travel board. You can also create custom boards on any travel theme of your choosing e.g. bargain shopping or pubs around town. If you were on Pinterest with your travel wish list, Trippy could be a better place among fellow travelers.


Wanderfly is a beautifully designed travel recommendation website that lets you choose your travel preferences with tags, connect to a trusted network of travel junkies, and get personalized travel advice. Wanderfly is a TripAdvisor company now so the social integration between the two companies should be strong. The beautiful design showcasing the travel recommendations is seducing enough, but you can follow other travelers within Wanderfly (or bring them in from Facebook and Gmail) and use these connections to create your own wish list. Of course, in the interests of the community you are also expected to give your two pennies worth on some great spots – so upload your pictures and leave a tip.


Discover photo postcards shared by the Gogobot community as they traipse around the world. The Gogobot website is like the visual backend of the iPhone and Android app which travelers use to plan their trips and upload photo postcards. Just like the travel postcards of old, these digital ones take you to far flung corners of the world. Browse through the photo postcards and plan out the things you want to do once you reach your destination. There are enough clues in the pictures. You can ask your travel questions on the Gogobot network, the open forum for travelers. Questions seem to get a fair number of responses which show the community is very much on the go.

These five photo rich websites not only give you a reality check (hopefully in the good sense) of a travel destination; they also help to cut through the hype that’s generated by catalog styled travel brochures. You can quite literally do some couch traveling even before you buy your plane tickets. But even more than that, the often panoramic photos help to fire up that sense of adventure in all of us.

So, if your travel passions have been ignited by these five, tell us about your favorite trip planning websites. Do websites like these five help you visualize your travel wish list and get you off the rock you find yourself in?

Image Credit: traffic sign via Shutterstock

The post Stuck On A Rock! Get Inspiring Trip Ideas With The Help Of These 5 Visual Travel Websites appeared first on MakeUseOf.

22 February 2013

How to Fake your Location in Google Chrome

Sometimes websites may request access to your location so that they can serve more relevant information. For instance, if you are looking for a gas station, a maps website may use your current geographic location to display stations that are near your place.

Share Location in Chrome

Google Chrome will only share your location if you click Allow.

How Browsers Determine your Location

Earlier, websites would use the IP address to determine your approximate location but with the HTML5 Geolocation API, web browsers can more accurately detect your location using data from GPS, Wi-Fi networks, cell towers, Bluetooth and of course the IP address.

To give you an example, open the Where am I app in your browser, allow it to use your location information and the app should be able to display your latitude and longitude coordinates (it is more accurate on mobile browsers as those devices have built-in GPS).

Fake your Geolocation Coordinates

When you happen to visit a location-aware website, the browser will always ask for a confirmation before sharing your location. If you aren’t keen to share your geographic coordinates, you can always deny that request or, if you are using Google Chrome, you can even send a fake location to the website.

Here’s how. Press F12 (or Ctrl + Shift + I) in Google Chrome to open the Developer Tools. Click the Settings icon in the lower right corner and switch to the Overrides tab (see the next screenshot). Now you can specify the exact latitude and longitude coordinates* that you want to share with that website.

[*] You can use the Postal Address finder to know the latitude and location of a place.

Make sure that the “Override Geolocation” setting is checked and then refresh the page to send that fake location. And this is obviously a useful feature for web developers who would like to test their geolocation-enabled apps from the same location.

Related tip: Geotag your Tweets with any Location

Override Geolocation in Chrome

Manually set you geolocation in Chrome

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Digital Inspiration @labnol This story, How to Fake your Location in Google Chrome, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 22/02/2013 under Google Chrome, Location, Internet.

Build Up Your Google+ Community With These Great Tips

Though there was a lot of hype surrounding Google+, a lot of people who tried it out ended up returning to their usual social networks, like Facebook. However, if you thought that Google+ was dead, gone, and buried for good, you may be pleasantly surprised. It’s still kicking and some communities are actually flourishing on the platform.

Never heard of Google+? That’s okay! You may want to check out Maggie’s Google+ guide for a great introduction to the platform. But for those of you that want to start a community on Google+ (or maybe you already have one that isn’t taking off), I have a few tips and pieces of advice to give you that might just propel your group to a whole new level.

Define Your Target Audience

When starting any kind of community, whether it’s on Google+ or not, you need to keep a single thought in mind at all times: which niche am I going to fill?

People flock to a community because that community fills a void that no other community can fill. After all, if you’re starting a new community for chefs, why are people going to join your community when there are dozens of other chef-based communities out there already? You can create a community of chefs, but you’ll need to target a specific type of chef to which no other community caters.

If you aim your community at a niche that has no coverage, those kinds of people will want to join you. They’ll have no choice but to join you since there’s nowhere else to go. So instead of targeting chefs, you can try to target chefs on a budget or self-taught chefs or anything else.

Set Up the Community

Once you’ve created a Google+ community (which is as easy as click on “Communities” in the sidebar and typing in a name for your community), you’ll want to set it up so that all of the details are informative. That way, whenever someone stumbles upon your community, they’ll know all they need to know to make their decision: “Do I want to join this community or not?”

Use a catchy name. If you want people to remember your community, pick a name that is: short, easy to say, easy to spell, and unique. If you’re really creative, try to create a pun or double meaning with your community name. Also, use a catchy tagline that describes your community in a dozen words or less.

Set a community picture. When you see the profile of a person or community and see the default blank photo, what is your first thought? “This community is brand new OR the manager doesn’t update it.” To prevent others from thinking that same thought about your community, make sure you use a community picture. It can be anything as long as it’s not the default!

Description and location. Google+ lets you set a description and location for your community. The description is crucial for anyone who passes by and sees your page: it’s the one chance you have to hook the user and intrigue them. The location is more for localized communities centered in a specific area.

Categories. Like forums, you’ll want to create different “categories” for different types of discussions within your community. Be careful that you don’t create too many, though, otherwise you’ll spread your discussions too thin and your community will seem barren or abandoned.

To do any of the above, just click on the “Actions” button on your community dashboard and select “Edit Community.”

Moderate and Prune

Depending on the size of your community, you may want to promote some of your members to moderator status. A moderator can add and edit categories, delete posts, kick or ban members from the community, and promote others to moderator status.

Why are moderators important? As any avid forum user can attest, there are always bad apples in a community, no matter what kind of community you’re talking about. These bad apples will instigate fights, insult other users, post illegal or inappropriate material, and just cause mayhem. Moderators are there to keep order amidst the chaos.

Similarly, moderators guide and prune your community. If you want your community to be about a certain local sporting phenomenon, then your moderators can steer your members whenever they go off topic. Therefore, it’s important that you pick the right people as your moderators.

To promote a member to moderator status, simply click on “Members” under your community’s profile photo. Find the member that you want to promote and click the drop-down arrow next to their name, then select “Promote from member to moderator.” That’s it!

Get the Word Out There

Once you have a proper idea of what you want your community to be, once you’ve set up your community details, and once you have a proper moderating force, you’ll want to advertise your community to those who haven’t heard of it. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Personal invitations. If you click on “Actions” on your community dashboard and go to “Invite People,” you’ll be able to invite specific people directly by entering their Google+ names or email addresses. This is great if you already know people who would have an interest in your community.

Public announcements. Visit other communities that are similar to yours but not exactly the same. Find different interests that might overlap with your own. For example, a forum for new college students might be a good place to find users that are interested in your chefs on a budget community. Announce that you’re open to members and people will gradually trickle in.

Word of mouth. The best way to grow your community is to be so great that your members advertise on your behalf. Word of mouth is probably the most potent form of marketing so take advantage of it. Work hard, amaze your members, and they’ll tell everyone about your awesome community.

Engage With Members

Once you’ve invited people to your community and you start seeing some growth, don’t stop! You need to keep interacting with your members, keep discussions going, and keep the momentum rolling. There’s a point when the community will be self-sustaining, but you won’t reach that point for a while.

Engaging with your community members is the best way to keep them interested. If they’re interested, they’ll keep coming back. The more they come back, the better the chance that they’ll post and reply to other members. If people keep posting and replying to each other, the community seems active, which entices new users to stick around. It’s a vicious cycle.

On the other hand, if you disappear, the users will wonder where you went. Did you abandon the community? If so, then why should the members stick around? They’ll begin to leave one by one until your community is a ghost town. Stay engaged, create a hardcore group of diehard members, and build on that with more engagement.


Again, Google+ isn’t dead. Will it still be here tomorrow? That’s something for the experts to ponder and predict. Just know that right now Google+ is definitely a valid platform for building and growing a community. If you don’t like using the other social networks, give Google+ a shot.

In case you weren’t aware, MakeUseOf has our own community area on Google+ so go check it out and engage with us! As for your own community, take the above advice to heart and you’ll build it up, slowly but surely.

The post Build Up Your Google+ Community With These Great Tips appeared first on MakeUseOf.

The End For Windows Live Messenger: What Are The Alternatives?

alternatives to windows live messengerIt’s hard to believe, but the end of days for Windows Live Messenger are finally here. The service has been popular since the 90s when it was named MSN Messenger, so many people are quite unprepared to see the service finally head into retirement.

If you’ve been a dedicated user of Windows Live Messenger, it’s time to start considering your options for future messaging. Today we’ll talk about how you can migrate to Skype, what alternative chat options are out there and how you can make the whole transition easier for yourself. You have until the 15th of March 2013 to make your decision, then the Windows Live Messenger service will be closed for good.

Why The Move?

Microsoft bought Skype back in May 2011, so many people have been expecting a mass migration since then. It really doesn’t make sense for Microsoft to maintain the two services independently, and Skype does have a lot going for it. For starters, Skype already has more users than Windows Live Messenger, especially since it allowed Facebook chat integration.

alternatives to windows live messenger

Skype has also developed great mobile applications for most popular devices and operating systems. This means the service is well and truly ready for large-scale VoIP and video usage across many platforms, which seems to be the direction chat is heading in. So, for everywhere in the world except mainland China, Windows Live Messenger will be retired and users will be migrated to Skype.

Migrating To Skype

To migrate to Skype, start by downloading the latest version of Skype. It’s available for multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS, Android and Windows Phone. If you already have a Skype account, log in using this account and then merge your account with your Windows Live Messenger account. If you don’t yet have a Skype account, you can simply log in using your Windows Live Messenger account. All of your Windows Live Messenger contacts will then be waiting for you on Skype.

windows live messenger alternative

Please note that your Windows Live Messenger details are also known as your Microsoft account. A Microsoft account is the email address and password that you use to sign in to services like Windows 8, Hotmail, Messenger, SkyDrive, Windows Phone, Xbox LIVE, and Outlook.com. If you have more than one Microsoft account, you may wish to merge a different account with your Skype account. It’s your choice, but if you choose an account that isn’t your Messenger account, then your Messenger contacts will not be imported. If this is the case, you may want to manually add your contacts before the Messenger service is closed for good.

Alternative Chat Services

These days, there are dozens of great chat services you can use to keep in contact with your friends. If you’re not keen to try Skype, you could choose to find your friends on any or all of the following services: Gmail (and Google Hangouts), Facebook, Yahoo, ICQ or AIM. These services have been around for a while, so there’s a good chance you will find your friends. You will have to manually add the contacts you wish to keep from Windows Live Messenger, so remember to do it before the cut-off date.

alternatives to windows live messenger

Each of these services has a different user base, varying popularity and slightly different functions available to users. These days, it would probably be safe to say Facebook chat and Gmail chat are the most widely used. Yahoo, AIM and ICQ have been around far longer and could have more of your friends signed up already, however that doesn’t mean your friends will still use the service regularly. Facebook chat and Gmail chat are more integrated into daily life as they are often turned on automatically when people visit the respective site.

Multi-Protocol IM Chat Tools

If you have accounts on more than one of the above services, you may be keen to use a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) tool. These will allow you to log into all of your IM accounts at once, then use the one program to keep track of all of your conversations. Some of these are web-based, while others have downloadable clients for your operating system. There are many pros and cons to consider when choosing between the different multi-protocol IM services.

Here at MakeUseOf, some of our favorite Multi-protocol IM tools include Adium, IM+, eBuddy, imo.im, Pidgin and Trillian. Take a look around and choose either a web-based or downloadable client for your OS. Many people feel that using these multi-protocol applications make chatting a much more pleasant experience as there’s only one login and only one set of notifications to worry about.

Will you migrate your Windows Live Messenger account to Skype or manually add your favorite contacts to your chosen chat client? What is your reasoning for your choice?

The post The End For Windows Live Messenger: What Are The Alternatives? appeared first on MakeUseOf.

Google's First Ultrabook

Chromebook Pixel is the first Chromebook designed by Google and the first premium Chromebook. Until now, Chromebooks used low-end CPUs, average displays and plastic chassis. Google decided to change all that and build "the best laptop possible" to inspire other manufacturers. It's like the first Nexus Chromebook.

But why is it called Pixel? It's the first Chromebook with a retina-like display, 3:2 aspect ratio and 2560x1700 resolution. Much like Apple's Retina MacBook Pro, Chromebook Pixel uses pixel doubling to make everything look sharp and crisp. The display has "the highest pixel density (239 pixels per inch) of any laptop screen on the market today" and it's a 12.85-inch IPS touchscreen with 400 nit brightness and 178° extra-wide viewing angles.

Pixel has an anodized aluminium body, glass touchpad, backlit keyboard, hidden vents, Intel i5 processor and 4GB of RAM. "The touchpad is made from etched glass, analyzed and honed using a laser microscope to ensure precise navigation. The Pixel also has powerful, full-range speakers for crisp sound, a 720p webcam for clear video, and a total of three microphones designed to cancel out surrounding noise," informs Google.

Google also includes 1TB of free Google Drive Storage for 3 years. You can also buy a special model with an integrated LTE modem for Verizon.

The downside is that Google's Chromebook is really expensive: $1300 (WiFi)/$1450 (WiFi+LTE). It's more expensive than Apple's MacBook Air and most ultrabooks. While it has a better display, Chrome OS is more limited than MacOS (or Windows) and it only became popular when Samsung and Acer started to offer $200-$250 Chromebooks. When you can buy tablets with high-resolution displays for $400 (Nexus 10) or $500 (iPad), the $1300 Chromebook Pixel feels out of place. An ARM device would've been a lot cheaper, but less powerful.

"The Pixel will be available for purchase starting today on Google Play in the U.S. and U.K., and soon on BestBuy.com. The WiFi version ($1,299 U.S. and £1,049 U.K.) will start shipping next week and the LTE version ($1,449) will ship in the U.S. in April. If you're interested in a hands-on experience, you can visit select Best Buy (U.S.) and Currys PC World (U.K.) store locations."

Now Google has a good reason to open its own physical stores.

{ via Google Blog }

HabitRPG Makes Improving Yourself Actually Addictive

habitrpg appChange your habits for the better by tying them into challenges in a role playing game. Level up for doing things you know you should and lose hit points for indulging in habits you know you need to give up. If you love role playing games – and traditional to-do lists aren’t working for you – HabitRPG is highly recommended.

Whether’s its grinding through boring Chocobo races to unlock Knights of The Round or delivering masks to obscure corners of Hyrule to earn a freaking bottle, video games make tasks that would otherwise be mundane interesting. The trick: offering rewards. Leveling up and upgrading equipment feels good in a way that few games can describe to non-gamers.

At the same time most of us spend time doing things we wished we didn’t – browsing the Internet instead of working, for example. And most of us also don’t do things we wish we did – working out, for example, or practicing a musical instrument.

The HabitRPG app tries to capture the wonderfully addictive quality of video games in a way that encourages you to improve your habits. It’s not magic – it only works if you’re honest. But if you can stick to its system you’ll be glad you did.

How It Works

To get started head to HabitRPG.com. You’ll need an account, so create one. When you do you’ll see that the interface consists of experience and HP bars, at the top, and four columns below: Habits, Daily, To Dos and Rewards.

habitrpg app

The basic concept is simple: Do good things and you’ll level up and earn money for rewards. Do bad things and you’ll take damage, lowering your HP score and possibly killing your character. Points lost and gained happen in the first three columns, which all encourage you do to different sorts of things.

The “Habit” column, for example, is simply a list of habits. Reward yourself for doing good things; punish yourself for doing bad. The system adjusts according to how well you’re doing, so the more you engage in a bad habit the more damage doing so will cause; inversely, the more you engage in good behavior the less it will help you level up. The idea is to subtly train you to stay the course, and to punish you for stopping.

This brings us to an interesting point: this game only works if you’re honest with yourself. If you’re not the sort of person who is willing to record your own mistakes, this probably isn’t for you.

The “Daily” column consists of things you want to do every day. Whether it’s practicing another language, writing a journal entry or exercising, this is the place to put things you know you should be doing every day but always manage to forget.

Fail to complete a daily and your character will take damage. Again, the effects of these daily tasks adjusts to you: if you usually manage one forgetting a day, it won’t do much damage, but neglect it daily and the damage will get worse and worse. On the positive side neglected dailies are worth more experience, encouraging you to tackle them.

Finally we have “tasks”, which is essentially a to-do list. Begin each day by filling in the tasks you need to accomplish and check them off throughout the day. You’ll get experience and gold every time you do, and man: does it feel good.

Tasks you take too long to complete will slowly turn red, meaning they are worth more experience and gold if you can complete them. This is intended to encourage you to do your neglected tasks – and it works better than any mere to-do list ever could.


Curious how well you’re doing? You can check out a chart of your progress for any habit or daily, showing you days you’ve done well and days you’ve done poorly. You can also chart your overall progress:

habitrpg review

Check back regularly and you’ll learn about yourself – and hopefully be able to improve.


In the fourth column we have rewards, the real reason HabitRPG works as well as it does. In this column you can offer yourself rewards for a set price. You could offer yourself a half hour of television during the work day, for example – whatever you think will motivate you to earn more gold.

There are also in-game rewards. You can upgrade your weapons to earn more experience and gold each time you do well or upgrade your armor to take less damage when you do poorly. Doing both will come in handy, because as in most role playing games each level takes longer to achieve than the level before it. Upgrading your equipment regularly helps you keep pace.

Chrome Extension

But wait…there’s more. A Chrome extension that connects to HabitRPG will automatically do damage to your character when you waste time on unproductive sites.

habitrpg app

Set some web sites to damage your character for lingering and some to help. You can set the time of day you’re supposed to be working, so don’t worry about not being able to browse in your free time.

Seeing that your character is taking damage because you don’t want to close Reddit can really motivate you to change your habits, so installing this is a good idea if time sink sites are a problem for you. Go ahead and download the extension from the Chrome Web Store.

You can check out Productivity Owl if you like this concept but aren’t interested in HabitRPG – it’s similar and far more customizable.


I’ve been consistently using this for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve got to say: it’s working. I’m not sure why imaginary experience points and gold motivate me to do tasks I earn actual money for, but they do. Maybe it will work for you.

If you wish your life was more like a role playing game you could try to start turned-based fights in the street, but I don’t recommend it. Other people rarely respect the turn-based sort of fight you’re trying to start. So this is probably the best tool out there for the job.

HabitRPG is an open source project, meaning you can download it yourself and run it on your own computer – assuming you know your way around a web server. The developer is actively looking for contributions – a recently completed Kickstarter campaign went a long way – so donate if you can.

HabitRPG is not the only way to gamify your life. James pointed out gamification tools to make your life better, including a similar (iPhone only) tool to HabitRPG: Epic Win. He also pointed out tactics for making your new years resolutions stick, so check that out if your resolutions have all gone sour.

What do you think of HabitRPG, and apps like it? Are they useful motivation or a time-wasting distraction among many? I know what I think, but want to hear what you do, so let’s discuss this below.

The post HabitRPG Makes Improving Yourself Actually Addictive appeared first on MakeUseOf.

21 February 2013

New Computer, Old OS: How To Migrate Linux Between Machines

linux move between desktopsTechnology is progressing forward at a pretty fast rate, so much so that it isn’t uncommon for you to find yourself buying a new computer or computer part. For example, you may want to buy a brand new laptop or replace a dying hard drive that your system is currently using. In cases like these, it would be great if you can simply move your operating system over to the new hard drive or system with as little fuss as possible.

While this may be a challenge if you’re using Windows, especially when it comes to the necessity of reactivating your copy, this is done a lot more easily if you’re running Linux. In fact, you even have a choice of a number of different ways, but I’m only going to recommend the ones that I find to be the easiest.

Fresh Install

The most common way for you to move your Linux installation over to a new hard drive is to simply reinstall Linux on the new system and copy over all of your files. Although this is the most common way of moving your system and files, I’d actually only recommend this if you cannot connect the two hard drives together to the same machine, no matter if you’re moving to a new hard drive or a new system. While backing up your files, you should look in the /home, /etc, /opt, /root, and /var folders for anything that you may want to keep. Desktop users may want to primarily look in the /home folder as that is where all your personal files are located, while server users should primarily check through /etc and /var for configuration files and hosted data.

Keep A List Of Installed Packages

linux move between desktops

Debian-based distributions have an easy way to list all installed packages on your system and write that list into a simple text file. This list can then be used on your new Linux installation to mark all packages that need to be installed again. To create the list, you’ll need to run the command sudo dpkg --get-selections > /home/[your user name]/packagelist.txt, while replacing [your user name] with the appropriate entry. To mark packages for reinstallation on the new system, copy the text file over to that system and run the command sudo dpkg --set-selections < /home/[your user name]/packagelist.txt.

This will mark all packages that you want back, but it won’t actually install them until you run the command sudo apt-get -u dselect-upgrade. This should install all packages from the official repos which you had on your old system, so a lot of familiar software should reappear after some time to download and install. Don’t forget to also restore your backed up data to the appropriate folders, and ta-da! Your system should now be back to the way it was!

Copying Your Partitions

linux move between desktops

If you are able to connect the old and new hard drives (or the hard drive of the old system and the hard drive of the new system) to the same machine, you can easily copy the entire Linux partition(s) over to the new hard drive. This method will make it a lot easier to keep your Linux environment the way it is because you won’t have to freshly install the distribution and all needed packages. Besides having the two hard drives connected to the same machine in some fashion in which the computer recognizes them both, you’ll also need to have a DVD or USB drive which has the distribution live environment on it.

As an example, a burned or written copy of the Ubuntu ISO will do just fine — just remember to keep it the same as what you already have installed, including whether it’s 32-bit or 64-bit. Once you have the live environment from the DVD/USB running, you can open Gparted and simply copy the partition(s) you want to keep over to the new hard drive by “copying and pasting” it in the interface. When copying over to a larger drive, resizing after the move is possible, while when copying to a smaller drive, you must resize the partition before moving it. Once the partition(s) are copied over to the new hard drive to the point of satisfaction, you will need to run a few commands in order to install the correct bootloader onto the new hard drive. To get the GRUB bootloader in working order on the new hard drive, run:

sudo mount /dev/sdX# /mnt

sudo mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev

sudo mount --bind /proc /mnt/proc

sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/resolv.conf

sudo chroot /mnt

grub-install /dev/sdX

You’ll need to replace all instances of “X” in those commands for the new hard drive, and replace all instances of “#” for the partition number of the root Linux partition. All of this information can found via the Disks application as found from the Dash. Now go ahead and move the new hard drive into the correct machine and boot from it to load your distribution. Once inside your running Linux instance, you’ll need to run sudo update-grub to make sure that the GRUB bootloader correctly identifies the partitions on your system, across all hard drives. This is an especially important step if you have another partition or hard drive with another operating system on it such as Windows.


Hopefully with these two methods, you can quickly, easily, and efficiently move over your Linux installation to a new hard drive or system. Provided you follow the instructions correctly, it should work without fail. Those with questions or those needing help can comment on this article and I’ll try to assist them as best as I can.

Have you moved a Linux installation before? Do you find these instructions to be easy? Let us know in the comments!

The post New Computer, Old OS: How To Migrate Linux Between Machines appeared first on MakeUseOf.

New Google Weather OneBox for Desktop

Google updated the weather OneBox from the desktop search interface to match the tablet interface. The new OneBox is huge, it includes more information and it's more interactive. While the old OneBox only displayed the weather forecast for 4 days, the new one has an hourly and an 8-day forecast for temperature, precipitation and wind.

Here's the old interface (I've managed to take this screenshot by pretending I'm using IE7 and changing the user-agent):

It's interesting that many search features are first added to the mobile/tablet interface and a few months later to the desktop UI.

{ Thanks, Mikhail. }

Google Drive's File Previews

Google Drive has a new feature that lets you preview files using an interface borrowed from Google+. This feature is not restricted to photos and videos, it also works for Google Docs documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, drawings, Microsoft Office files, PDF, PostScript and XPS files and TrueType fonts.

It's interesting that Google Drive shows the new previews if you click a file that's not associated with a web application. For examples, the previews don't show up if you click a Google Docs document, so you need to right-click the file and select "Preview".

"When previewing a file, it's easy to flip through nearby files by clicking the arrows on the left and right sides of the preview window. This is a great way to scan through a group of photos you've stored in your Drive," explains Google. You can also use the left and right arrow keys to navigate to the other files and up/down arrow keys to scroll up/down in documents. While the previews don't let you edit documents, you can select text, zoom in or out, find text (Ctrl+F), print the documents or share them with other people.

The feature is currently rolled out, so you may not see it yet in your account. Check back later or sign in to a different Google account.

{ via Google Drive Blog }

Deal With Facebook Procrastination With These Tools And Tips

facebook procrastination Whenever I visit Facebook, I’m sucked into my News Feed. Maybe I just wanted to join an event or respond to a private message, something you can’t do via email. Instead I find myself reading updates from my friends for half an hour. And how could you not care about what your friends share? Facebook is addictive.

Wanting to spend time on Facebook, reading what your friends are up to, and interacting with them, that’s OK. It becomes an issue, however, when you spend time on Facebook despite having much better and more important things to do, like writing this article. That’s when you are procrastinating.

So this article is here to help us deal with Facebook procrastination. There are tools and techniques you can use to limit your time on Facebook, but the root of the issue is your behavior. I can’t help you with the latter, but I can show you how to get started with the former and form some habits that will get you out of your procrastifacebooking.

Close the Facebook Tab & App

This one is simple. Just don’t keep Facebook open, neither on your browser, nor on your mobile, or in any other way. Close all the apps and disable all the notifications, and remember to close Facebook after every use. This will eliminate unwanted distraction. Relief!

facebook procrastination

Open Facebook on a Schedule

Set a schedule for when it’s OK to use Facebook. Resist the urge to open Facebook outside this schedule, but don’t beat yourself up if it happens. The key is to strictly limit your time on Facebook, but still allow yourself to spend a reasonable amount of time on Facebook.

Author Charles Duhigg says you need to accommodate the habit of checking Facebook. He argues that if you allow yourself to spend 5 minutes per hour on Facebook, you will be more productive throughout the day, than if you tried to ignore the urge to check Facebook and then got sucked in for a whole 45 minutes.

One tool that can help you set a schedule and time limit is Quickrr Facebook Rehab. This Chrome addon grants you one hour per day on Facebook per default. Click the settings icon to customize the extension.

procrastination tool facebook

You can change the daily time limit, set a Facebook-free day and hours during which you will be blocked from visiting Facebook.

procrastination tool facebook

As with any such tool, it can’t really force you to stay away from Facebook. It’s up to you to practice some discipline, change your behavior, and build new habits.

If you like this Quickrr extension, check out the other Quickrr addons for Chrome.

Read Facebook via Email

What worked for me was to check important Facebook updates via email rather than waiting for the red numbers to pop up on the website. You can enable email notifications in Notifications Settings. Make sure you filter Facebook emails into a separate folder, so they don’t clog up your inbox.

procrastination tool facebook

This tip will only work if you actually have a healthy habit for checking emails. That’s a whole different story, though.

Manage Your Facebook Web Interface

So you will eventually spend time on Facebook after all. What you can do to make this time worthwhile, is to be sure you only encounter meaningful content. Hide notifications you don’t need to see and change what updates you see on your News Feed. When you hide individual updates, you will also see a link to hide all updates from the respective page or change what type of updates you see from a particular friend.

how to avoid facebook procrastination

Curating your News Feed takes time, but it’s worthwhile. The less clutter makes it onto your News Feed, the less time you will waste on Facebook.

Finally, you can use a tool to disable those distracting numbers (metrics) that pop up all over Facebook. Not only the eye catching red ones in the top left, but also all the little blue and grey ones indicating how many messages you have or how many comments there are to a post. The Facebook Demetricator is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. The video below demonstrates how it works.

A similar, yet much more powerful extension available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera, is Social Fixer. It allows you to take full control over your Facebook appearance, fixing annoyances, enhancing existing functionality, and adding new features. Once installed, the addon takes you through a seven step setup wizard when you next visit Facebook.

how to avoid facebook procrastination

Social Fixer allows you to hide a lot of distracting items on Facebook, like the ‘ticker’ feed of friends’ activity or sponsored or duplicate stories in your News Feed. One of its best features is filtering, which you can use to hide selected content or move posts with specific keywords into a separate tab. That’s ingenious because it can help you focus on a specific set of updates at a time, instead of having to scroll through a random mix. Finally, Social Fixer adds several useful buttons to your News Feed and individual posts, including Mark All Read or Save for Later.

facebook procrastination

If you like Social Fixer, you might also like these addons to get rid of some annoying Facebook features.


Facebook procrastination is a hard nut to crack. It takes time to get used to new habits and change your behavior, but with a little effort and the right tools you can do it. The reward will be having more focus when you work and more time left to spend with friends and family when you’re done with work.

Do you have more tips to battle Facebook procrastination?

Image Credit: procrastination via Logobird

The post Deal With Facebook Procrastination With These Tools And Tips appeared first on MakeUseOf.